Robert L. Lawrence
Robert (Bob) Lawrence 93, passed away peacefully on November 16 at the Concord VNA Hospice House after a brief illness with his loving family at his side. He was the beloved husband of over 70 years to Betty, Elizabeth (Casterline) Lawrence 94.
He leaves his 3 children; daughter Patricia Ritzo and her husband John Ritzo of Falmouth, ME, daughter Beverly Clements and her husband James Clements of Grantham, NH and son Stephen Lawrence and his wife Kathleen (McNamara) Lawrence of Westborough, MA. He was grandfather to Molly, Jolie, Johnny, Caitlin, Laura, Joseph and Ellen. He was great grandfather to Cannon, Natalie, Porter, Althea, Finley, Bailey and Jackson.
Bob was born in Brooklyn NY on August 12, 1926 and grew up mostly in Plainfield NJ. He was a member of the Sea Scouts during his teen years and left high school during his senior year with friends to join the US Navy during World War 2.
He went to gunnery school in Pensacola Florida and became a turret gunner in carrier based Navy TB-F planes. They flew anti-submarine missions in the North Atlantic. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 1946, moving back to New Jersey to complete his GED degree. He became a draftsman in architecture and learned the building trade.
In 1955 he traveled to Bethlehem NH to help a friend build a hotel addition. He fell in love with the area and in 1956 Betty and Bob with daughters Patty and Bev moved to Franconia, NH. Son Steve was born soon after.
Bob’s first business venture in the North Country was building and operating a miniature golf course on their property, with an archery range. Betty and Bob both became expert bow and arrow target shooters in the spare time. Bob became an avid bow hunter and one year took one of the state’s largest deer by bow and arrow. He was a volunteer firefighter on the Franconia Fire Department.
Bob’s desire was to start a building business. This opportunity came to him when working as a ski technician and meeting Baron Hubert Von Pantz from Mittersill Austria. The Baron wanted to recreate his village of Mittersill in the Franconia Mountains. He sent Bob to Austria to study chalet architecture. Bob returned to develop and build the Mittersill ski area including over 40 chalets which became an instantly popular vacation destination.
His business, Robert L. Lawrence Custom Builders also designed and built many of the area’s homes and commercial and public buildings. His company was often also commissioned to create custom furniture and cabinets. Bob was known for his artistic personal touch on all projects. He was able to provide employment and benefits for many local workers for many years. He loved to take his building crews to see the Red Sox or Patriots or go deep sea fishing.
A man of many talents and interests Bob enjoyed skiing, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, sailing, and owning and riding horses. He greatly enjoyed nature and had a kind way with all animals. He was always up for a song going back to his younger days in New Jersey as a gospel crooner on the radio. He loved world-wide travel including a month long exploration and safari in the Central African Republic and the Congo which provided many amazing photos including one of Bob standing at a monument denoting the exact center of Africa.
In later years Bob retired from building but was still sought after for his talent in architectural design partnering with many of the area builders in the White Mountains. He enjoyed drawing and painting, following in his Father’s talent of being a fine art painter and cartoonist. He was a legendary cribbage player. Anyone that ever met him enjoyed his quick wit and marvelous sense of humor.
Mostly he always loved and treasured his wife Betty from the time they met. Bob fulfilled most every dream he had in life so now we both sadly and happily send him off on a new path with all of our love.
There will be no calling hours. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Copper Cannon Camp P.O. Box 124, Franconia, NH 03580 www.coppercannoncamp.org .
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